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Francisco González tells finance and banking students: “If you have a strategy and you believe in it, persevere”

Perseverance is the key to success. That was the message BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman shared with an audience of finance and banking students at the start of the academic year. “Amazon was about to collapse twice. It has been hard for us, but here we are leading the transformation of the industry,” said Francisco González. Principles are the other fundamental element: “Never give in to misconduct,” he told them.

BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman was asked to officially open the 2017-2018 school year at CUNEF, the University Financial Studies College, which is part of the Complutense University. In a conversation with Pablo Vázquez, Director General of CUNEF, Francisco González offered his vision of the banking industry and its future challenges. He did so before an audience of 300 people, primarily undergraduate students, graduate students and university professors. José Manuel González-Páramo, BBVA’s Executive Director, and José María Roldán, Chair of the Spanish Banking Association (AEB) were also on hand. The Chairman of CUNEF Board of Directors, Álvaro Cuervo, was the host of the event.

During the conversation, Francisco González explained BBVA’s transformation and his vision of how technology is going to change the finance industry. “Ten years ago we started to transform a bank into a digital company,” he recalled. Today, he said, “Banks are moving toward large platforms where customers can enter at any time, from anywhere, on any channel, and get a very quick response to mortgage applications, money needs, creating a fund, or whatever they need.” In any case, Francisco González said, “The important thing is that customers feel they are receiving impeccable service and that they can decide to work with a machine, work with a person remotely or go to an office if they want.”

Ten years ago we started to transform a bank into a digital company”

BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman maintained that the so-called exponential technologies – the cloud, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain – “are changing the rules of the game,” for products and processes that worked well before, but that can now be even better, and for new ones that we don’t even know about yet.

In his opinion, this fourth industrial revolution will bring about a major transformation of the banking industry. “Lots of banks will disappear. If there are currently 20,000 banks in the world, in five years there will be thousands; in ten or fifteen years, hundreds and in 25 years, there will be dozens.”

González told the CUNEF students, who are banking and finance professionals: “The banking industry will offer good opportunities, but you have to choose the banks you believe will still be in this fight in five, ten, fifteen or twenty years. If you’re looking at the next five years, almost any bank would do, but if you look to the next ten or fifteen years, lots of banks will not be around. BBVA will.”

If you’re looking at the next five years, almost any bank would do, but if you look to the next ten or fifteen years, lots of banks will not be around. BBVA will”

Francisco González shared his experience of nearly two decades leading one of the world’s biggest banks, and of how BBVA successfully overcame the worst crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression. “I was lucky to make my way to the banking industry at the age of 51. And since the very beginning, I implemented a very simple rule: everything we do must be legal, with no shortcuts; second, it must be publishable; and third, it must be morally acceptable.” These premises are the key to BBVA’s three-pronged strategy of “Principles, people and innovation” González explained.

To conclude the conversation, which officially marked the start of the CUNEF academic year, Pablo Vázquez asked Francisco González to share with the students the fundamental elements of successfully managing a company. “The first thing is principles. You young people are going to start your careers and you’re going to go through some tough times. My advice is: never give in to misconduct because in the end, it has a cost.” And perseverance is very important. “If you have a strategy and you believe in it, persevere. Amazon was about to collapse twice. It has been hard for us, but here we are, leading the transformation of the industry,” concluded BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman.

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